ONTARIO, June 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Catholic bishops in Ontario scramble to figure out how to square McGuinty’s new law mandating Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) with Catholic teaching on sexual morality, homosexual activist groups say that they are prepared to challenge Catholic doctrine in court come September.

After Catholic Bishop Fred Colli of Thunder Bay made statements last week that GSA clubs in Catholic schools would be “true to the teachings of our Church”, Ontario Gay-Straight Alliances Coalition lawyer Doug Elliott told the homsoexual news service Xtra! that if Catholics “driven by the position of the Vatican” think they have found a loophole in the legislation, then they will be hauled before the courts.

“If the schools try to play games with kids …. the law is clear. We won’t put up with any of that crap come September,” Elliott said. “If you’re not complying with the law, then we’re going to take you to court. It’s that simple.”

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, a lawyer and equality program director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, told Xtra! last week that Bill 13 guarantees students the right to feel safe and accepted at school. She said that if Catholic teaching on sexual morality makes students feel “unsafe, shameful or humiliated” (in the words of Xtra!’s reporter) then the doctrine itself may be challengeable in a court.

“When doctrine or policy is being used in a discriminatory fashion, including creating a poisoned environment for vulnerable young people, then yes, I think that would be challengeable,” Mendelsohn Aviv said.

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The Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect,” and that “all unjust discrimination must be avoided.”  However, it also says that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” and are “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “they close the sexual act to the gift of life.” The Catechism affirms that “under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved” and calls persons who experience sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex to “chastity.”

Mendelsohn Aviv pointed out that McGuinty made it clear last month during debate over Bill 13 that the provincial government, not the Catholic Church, is now the ruling authority in Ontario’s Catholic schools.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto admitted that Bill 13 interfered with the Catholic Church when McGuinty’s amended the legislation to force Gay-Straight Alliances on Catholic schools. At that time Collins said that McGuinty’s move was “overrid[ing] the deeply held beliefs” of the Church and “intrud[ing] on its freedom to act in a way that is in accord with its principles of conscience”.

Mendelsohn Aviv told Xtra! that human rights lawyers will be watching closely this September as students begin to form GSAs in Catholic schools.

“There is reason to be extremely vigilant about how they are being controlled and how much they are able to exercise their basic rights, like freedom of association. I don’t think Bill 13 resolved all that,” she said.

Tonya Callaghan, a lesbian researcher and former Catholic teacher whose work, “Holy Homophobia: Doctrinal Disciplining of Non-heterosexuals in Canadian Catholic Schools,” is about to be published, says that Catholic schools are “hotbeds of homophobia”.

“The reason is because of Catholic doctrine that directs all the policy and practice in those schools regarding sexual minority groups,” she told Xtra!.

Callaghan said that Catholic doctrine on homosexuality “flies in the face of the laws of the land and Canadian equality rights.” She called the Catholic document titled Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same-Sex Attraction “dangerous” because “the doctrine [within it] is like bullying to queer youth.”

Callaghan applauded the provincial Liberals for passing Bill 13, saying that establishing GSAs is vital to supporting homosexual students in Catholic schools. With Bill 13 in place, Callaghan says, legislators should now turn their attention to the content of GSAs by starting to question Catholic doctrine and by having a public debate about whether it should be taught in publicly funded schools.

“I think Canada is ready for this kind of discussion, to start looking at the limits of religious freedom,” she said. “When certain religious beliefs call for the suppression of human rights, that’s when we have a problem. We currently have that problem in Catholic schools here in Ontario, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan. Even in British Columbia, which has private Catholic schools. We will have to address all private religious schools as well, eventually.”


Contact information:

His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins (President)
Archbishop of Toronto
e-mail: archbishop@archtoronto.org
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto ON.  M4T 1W2
Phone:  416-934-0606 Fax:  416-934-3452

Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, c.s.b. (Vice-President)
Bishop of London
E-mail: bishop@dol.ca
1480 Richmond Street
London, ON.  N6G 0J4
Phone: 519-433-0658 Fax:  519-433-0011

Most Rev. Brendan O’Brien (Counselor)
Archbishop of Kingston
E-mail: obrien@romancatholic.kingston.on.ca
390 Palace Road
Kingston, ON.  K7L 4T3
Phone:  613-548-4461   Fax:  613-548-4744

Most Rev. J.-L. Plouffe (Counselor)
Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie
E-mail: jlplouffe@diocesecentre.com
30 St. Anne Road ,
Sudbury , ON. P3C 5E1
Phone:  705-674-2727   Fax:  705-674-988